February 08, 2022

Climate Hype Leads to Climate Anxiety and Undermines Constructive Efforts

Tremendous damage is being done by media, activists, and some politicians by hyping climate change (global warming). 

Such climate exaggeration is damaging the mental state of millions of people and undermining our ability to deal with climate change.  It leads to poor adaptation to the moderate impacts of global warming or taking realistic steps that can be highly protective.

The front page of the Seattle Times yesterday contained a story (reprinted from the NY Times) about the rapid growth in climate change anxiety and the burgeoning industry providing therapy to those in desperation and pain.


There are hundreds of articles in major media on the rapid increase of "climate grief."  And a recent article in the medical journal, The Lancet, surveyed 10 000 children and young people (aged 16–25 years) in ten countries, finding that 59% were very or extremely worried and 84% were at least moderately worried.  More than 50% reported feeling sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty, and 75% said that they think the future is frightening.


An international climate grief organization is flourishing.  And universities, like UW Bothel, are providing climate grief classes.

Existential Threat

One of the most frequent refrains of the media and activists is that global warming is an existential threat. Just a reminder, an existential threat is a threat to your VERY EXISTENCE.  We are talking about death.


Major U.S. politicians like Congresswoman Ocasio Cortez state that global warming is not only an existential threat, but we have less than 12 years left.  Young people are doomed.



There are literally thousands of media stories stating that climate change (global warming) is an existential threat. President Biden and the U.S. senator from California are saying the same sort of thing:

 

Check the Seattle Times for  the term "existential threat" and climate and you will find hundreds of stories with that connection (see below).  The Seattle Times is well known for its unfounded apocalyptic climate headlines and terrorizing cartoons by David Horsey.  Totally irresponsible. 


I get dozens of emails and calls a year from worried folks, including individuals wondering whether they should have kids, considering the world will end soon.

Just Plain Wrong

The existential threat business is not based on science or facts.    Read the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, created by leading scientists: there is no existential threat noted.   The same thing with the U.S. National Climate Assessment.   Read the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  There is no existential threat.

Global warming is a slowly growing, serious issue, but one we can deal with by both reducing our carbon emissions and mitigation/adaptation efforts.   There will be impacts, some serious, but nothing that threatens human existence or even the advancement of our species. 

We can deal with climate change, and there is great reason for optimism.

For example, the number of climate-related deaths is way down (see below).  Richer, more technologically advanced societies can protect themselves from environmental threats.   And I am proud that greatly improved weather prediction plays a major role in protecting life and reducing economic impacts.


Worried about forest fires in the western U.S.?  By restoring (e.g., thinning, prescribed burns) our overgrown forests (damaged by nearly a century of fire suppression), we can greatly reduce large catastrophic fires.  Flooding a concern?  We need to move people living near rivers or on historical floodplains--or take the necessary steps for their safety (e.g., better levees, improve warning systems).

Irresponsible media, such as the Seattle Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, National Public Radio (e.g., local KNKX) are pushing a terrifying message unconnected with science or reality. So are a number of politicians.   You can imagine why they are doing it--and often it is not for benevolent reasons.

Hyping climate change is simply unethical and wrong.  

Folks hyping climate change are harming the mental state of the most vulnerable in society. And their end-of-the-world claims are resulting in poor decisions--like relative inaction on fixing forests, opposition to natural gas to replace dirty bunker fuel in Puget Sound shipping,  and opposition to nuclear power.

There is a lot of talk that folks need to  "follow the science."  Fine, let's do so.  Science does not suggest that global warming will lead to the end of humanity or even the termination of mankind's progression towards longer, healthier, and better lives.


Apocalytic predictions calling for immediate action have gotten our nation into trouble many times in the past, resulting in major errors.  The world would turn communist unless we went to Vietnam, that Sadam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction demanded we start a war with Iraq, that the communists threat required a McCarthy-led reign of terror in the U.S.  That alcoholic beverages were such a threat we needed prohibition. 

We are doing it again with climate change.  When will we learn?

71 comments:

  1. Cliff, this is just another "stray voltage" campaign in order to distract from the government's disasterous pandemic policies and the lockdown aftereffects. It's designed to help the ruling party in power maintain their status regarding the upcoming midterm elections. Everything and anything is on the table for them, whether it's the new COVID strain or the war in the Ukraine. Nothing is working for them anymore, so now it's time for their flying monkeys in the media to start another false flag operation.

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  2. How many times are you going to publish this article? I've seen this at least twice in the last couple of years.

    "just believe" and yet nothing changes. See the first comment- it's a "ploy"

    So when Cliff, when will scientists and meteorologists come to the rescue? Tomorrow, the week after that, in a few years??

    Being upset it about the only thing that will move us. Otherwise we sit and watch the species die off. I'm afraid your optimism isn't contagious.

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    1. When people like you stop claiming (without any basis) that our species is going to "die off" from global warming, I will know that my blogs on the topic are not needed anymore.

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    2. "Just believe" was never a productive message.

      "Reduce, reuse, and recycle" is a productive message. Many other practical messages are productive, and are the real reason why US greenhouse gas emissions peaked back in 2007, and have been averaging roughly 1% decline annually since then. We're now in a position where that decline can accelerate now that wind and solar have reached widespread economic viability, and electric vehicles are very close to doing so, and where these technologies are accessible to developing nations.

      One of the worst things that ever happened for popular understanding of climate change was for Al Gore to release his litany of exaggerations for skeptics to debunk. He talks about what 20 feet of sea level rise will do to New York. Meanwhile, real climate scientists are trying to help us understand why the actual predictions of 18-30 inches actually are bigger problems than they sound like.

      His Nobel Prize acceptance speech warned the arctic ice cap could be gone by 2014 (the lead researcher he claims to have been citing expressed confusion where he got that prediction).

      Can't we see how harmful that unsupported and now proven false prediction was to convincing the average person that climate researchers actually have a solid scientific basis for the concerns?

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    3. jno62: "Being upset it about the only thing that will move us. Otherwise we sit and watch the species die off."

      You hyperventilating about the fantasy concocted in your head that we "have to do something that I think is the something and nothing else will do and we have to DO IT NOW!" won't solve one problem, ever.

      These problems are huge, complex, and so more people don't suffer, need careful thinking and analysis. Not apocalyptic hysteria like "We're not doing something right in front of me so nothing is happening at all and we're all gonna die!"

      I advise different news sources. Stuff is being done, but it won't happen overnight, it won't happen like you think it will, and humans aren't all going do die tomorrow.

      That, and like Cliff has alluded to several times, which seem to bother you each time, we do have technological options on the table. The U.S. has 334 million people to account for though. You don't just uproot those because the Seattle Times screams "EMERGENCY!"

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    4. When is the rate of sea-level rise per decade that you are using when you mention rises of 18-30 inches? In other words, how long do we have before that occurs? And what are your scientific sources for that belief? Have you seen Judith Curry's review of the research literature? https://judithcurry.com/2018/11/27/special-report-on-sea-level-rise/

      She noted a rise of 7-8 inches since 1900 and no discernible acceleration since then.

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  3. I believe "existential threat" can also refer to an irreversible harm to a continued state of being, and not just total annihilation. I guess we need to start calling climate change a potential "Global Catastrophic Risk" instead of existential threat? I'd be curious as to what page of the IPCC report you are specifically referring to in claiming it finds Climate Change to NOT be an existential threat. It does mention increased droughts, elimination of coastline and rising sea level, elimination of snowpack, elimination of arctic ice, hazards to our water cycle, increases of extreme weather events, and increases of sea events (events previously happening once every century now happening annually). And this is all forecast through 2100. Isn't it plausible to say that if we experience all of this over the next 80 years, and things continue as they are, then in a few hundred years things could be at an existential level?

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    1. Robert...search the IPCC report for existential threat or anything like it. You won't find it. Regarding your last sentence, what do you think are the chances that technology in 100 years will be the same as today? Global warming is actually an easy problem...we could solve the energy problem with fission if we wanted...and fusion is not that far away. Can you IMAGINE the technologies available to deal with this issue in 50-100 years?

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    2. Fission isn't the easy answer you are making it out to be. The US still refuses to implement safe storage of hazardous waste (ref: https://cen.acs.org/environment/pollution/nuclear-waste-pilesscientists-seek-best/98/i12 ) , a problem that we have failed to solve for 50 years. Why in the hell would you expect the minds behind that boondoggle to suddenly get their **** together? More importantly, why would you trust an operation that flawed to safely run a nuclear program?

      Say what you want about wind farms, they've never had a radioactive meltdown.

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    3. Yes, Robert Dunphy, the term existential threat is regularly used to talk about harm to a state of being and not to simply denote an extinction event. Even the military, who know a thing or two about "threats" use the term - as in the URL below.
      Clearly the IPCC report reports on a range of realities and threats that could destabilize humanity. Arguing about whether the IPCC labels them as "existential" or not does little good and certainly does not advance the discussion of how to address the climate crisis.

      https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/2582051/defense-secretary-calls-climate-change-an-existential-threat/

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    4. Cliff,

      I agree with much of your critique in regards to nuclear power, etc... but your optimism about technology, while admirable, is based on assumptions that may or may not hold true. This is no different then environmentalist making decisions based on assumptions rather then reality or science. On a positive note these same groups also often push progress forward lobbying for providing tax breaks/etc.. to non-fossil fuels. Congress seems largely focused on the fossil fuel industry at the expense of the future. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that society will progress in a positive fashion. American society and government continues to become more dysfunctional, so the US is not the world power that it was 50 years ago and real democracy is already degrading. Also, it is possible the models could be understating future damage and that certain species, like salmon, will poorly adapt to the new conditions. We have seen how variations in ocean temperatures can have strong effects on the ability of salmonids to survive. But keep in mind that survival is not a yes or no statement or question. It is better thought of as distributions around two means. The first one are atmospheric model results. The second is our ability to adjust to the different atmospheric models. Keeping that in mind, perhaps your responses and reactions should be a little less binary.

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    5. It seems like no more than circular logic to refer to an oft-criticized example of environmental extremism in the military to buttress an argument of the legitimacy of said environmental extremism

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    6. John Franklin, General Austin is now a political appointee, and even before that he was not a climate researcher. He repeated basically the same words as his boss.

      He is right to say climate change makes the world less safe.

      He is in conflict with the very broad scientific consensus on climate change when he refers to it as an existential threat.

      We only promote climate change skepticism if we promote false rhetoric that is easy to debunk, and therefore provides fuel for those who want to the inflame the skepticism.

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    7. It's all about speculation and taxation.

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  4. 🙏Thank you Cliff for calling out the media! They need it as much as possible

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  5. This is part of a larger pattern, another high destructive piece of which we saw in 2020: the scapegoating of the police.

    Michelle Obama apparently is among those black parents who warn their children about the dangers of racist police, and worry for their health on that ground. Yet FBI statistics show that the average white male in America is some 6-7 times as likely to be killed by police as the average black female. Furthermore, an innocent American is some 3000 times as likely to die of errors by medical professionals, than by police. I researched the 29 cases of police killings exhibited by the station in CHAZ during that era, all of African-Americans, and found almost all of those shooting were, in fact, necessary, under the circumstances (violent crimes, guns, swords, drugs, hostages, murder victims, etc See "Letter to a 'Racist' Nation.")

    The Media is fundamentally corrupt. Facts which undermine "official narratives" are easy to find, but suppressed. Aside from correcting the record, the challenge to those who recognize those errors, is to remain honest oneself, and not exagerrate in the opposite direction.

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  6. This post makes me want to buy and SUV, starve a polar bear and roll coal. Drill baby drill!

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  7. I am very concerned about the deoxygenated middle layers of the ocean and the clearly documented plunging of ocean counts across all classes. This will not be mitigated by any geoengineering or reduction of atmospheric carbon. 90% of the carbon we put in the air ends up in the ocean.

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    1. Why do you think deoxygenated layers have anything to do with global warming? Also why do you think fish counts have anything to do with global warming, and not overfishing or water pollution?

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  8. I do read the scientific studies and find them cause for a great deal of concern. Our efforts to rein in carbon emissions are far less than will be needed to curb the worst effects, based on models that do not account for potential feedback loops that will make the problem far worse. Risk is a personal perception. In addition, it is entirely possible for some people to continue to see improvements in longevity and quality of life while many others are forced to leave their homes because of climate change. Physics doesn't care about politics, culture, or social mores. We can't afford to be wrong.

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    1. Jennifer...you have to be specific and quantitative. What "worst effects" are you talking about? Don't you agree with both the IPCC reports and the National Assessment that global warming at worse will take off a few percent from future GROWTH? We need to keep the science and facts...that is my point.

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    2. "I do read the scientific studies..."

      Sources, please.

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    3. Jennifer - Should you want to provide quantitative evidence of the impact of recent warming I would reference the EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) website that states Arctic summer sea ice area has decreased by approximately 40% since satellite data became available in 1979. The decline in volume is even stronger, with a decrease of 35% at the end of the winter season, and a rather amazing decrease of 75% at the end of the summer season.

      There are lower latitude types that would like to ignore the changes occurring in the Arctic (i.e., “thank goodness the hole is in the other end of the boat”) but there are global implications (and reasons) when that much ice is lost in that period of time.

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  9. Good time to recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/Unsettled-Climate-Science-Doesnt-Matters/dp/B0948623S1

    This book provides a detailed and data-driven explanation of Cliff's point, written by a well known climate scientist.

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  10. Cliff I wonder if you'd have any thoughts on the non peer-reviewed report "Slippery Slopes" produced by folks at Loughborough University London - along with the media coverage of this report, which chooses to zero in on the elements that support the predominant global warming media narrative.

    https://www.sportecology.org/_files/ugd/a700be_9aa3ec697a39446eb11b8330aec19e30.pdf)
    Media coverage: Search for Climate change threatening the Games and future of snow sports

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  11. The climate/weather will not directly kill us off as a species or directly end our civilization. Civil unrest and warfare stand a far better chance of bringing that about long before we succumb to the laws of thermodynamics. Wealthy individuals and nations will of course have access to solutions that technology as well as the markets will provide....if they can be afforded. Unrest and wars typically start when one tribe won't bargain something the neighboring tribe considers crucial to its survival.

    The real race with climate change is to develop the tech (and the attitudes) that can sustain the carrying capacity of our soon to be much warmer environment at current levels (or greater) without a drastic reduction in quality of life for the majority of Humanity. Its too late to stop the warming. There is no drastic mitigation without crashing the economy so its all about learning to live with the heat. Money has to be spent on civil engineering, agriculture, resilient energy, and other built environment concerns that can smooth out the impacts.

    Or we as a species can basically do nothing but bicker about it and the end result is some experiment in Social Darwinism. The wealthiest will endure, while the majority of the populous dies off. As per Darwin, 75% of us dying off WOULD fix most of the problems in our world as a sustainable carrying capacity would be eventually achieved. Its also almost assured that the doomed won't go down without a fight. Which could really spell trouble for the other 25% on top. Its how most civilizations end. If the peasants see the future, and they are not a part of it, then what's to be lost in killing a few nobles on the way out?

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    1. We will never develop tech to control climate. The Aztecs and Mayan thought they could too, and it turns out the climate does not care how many people you sacrifice. The climate does not care much about co2 either, at least not at fractions of a percent.
      BTW, we have not exceeded the planet's carrying capacity.

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    2. This is true. The planet IS currently able to carry the current Human population as of today and probably next week. The rub is there will potentially be a confluence between the rate of population growth and the planet's ability to naturally recover resources per capita. Population is basically an exponential curve and resources are more linear. No one knows really the impact of warming on the resource curve as Canada and Siberia could become the planet's agricultural belts after the permafrost thaws as well as other new finds of oil/minerals etc in areas that were too harsh in the past to profitably exploit. Then ther eis of course the impact of disruptive emerging tech.
      As others have also mentioned, we WASTE a vast amount of our precious resources thanks to our profit driven, constant growth Ponzi scheme consumer based society. Most of the efforts of Humanity end up in a landfill after a year or two. It would be great to maybe buy 5 of a particular thing over the course of a human lifetime instead of 20+, but then the billionaires, stockholders, Wall Street etc would not appreciate that. As long as we are all buying their overpriced crap, they get to still be rich and remind us all about the Golden Rule.

      We also could realize that we don't need litters of kids since most of us do not work on a farm in addition to better pediatrics. Some won't have kids because they think we are doomed and others just can't afford them. There are plenty of variables to influence the trend lines and a confluence might not occur. If it does for whatever reason, then we will get to the business of killing ourselves. The environment WILL kill off some of us too, but not as fast as we kill off each other. Before that happens, the Powers That Be will remind us that we still need to pump out the babies (Tomorrow's taxpayers and consumers) to keep the Ponzi going, in spite of how dire things may otherwise be perceived.

      It really depends on how fast Nature can adapt to the warming, which could be surprisingly fast. Natural Environmental forces do not require political will and financing to get things done. If not, then there could be ecosystems crashing which could effect agriculture. Water rights will also be a big deal. Its all speculative, but Human Nature is what it is. If resources get tight, then we won't share with our neighbors anymore. When diplomacy fails and trade stops, the shooting starts.

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  12. When I was driving to work the radio news channel was talking about how Washington State is on the verge of implementing a per mile tax. If you own a gas car you would have to pay the gas tax and the new $.25 per mile tax but the gas tax money would be refunded to you at tax time. This story made me angry, families are having a hard enough time paying the inflated gas prices some will lose their cars because they need their gas tax money now not a year from now at tax time and who keeps all their gas receipts?. This is also a very regressive tax because high cost of housing forces poor to commute greater distances. In the past I have been for green energy but if a green energy law drastically decreases the quality of my life then I will vote against it. If we want the public to get behind green energy we have to offer them a good alternative to their gas car, we can't take their cars away from them.

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    1. This summary appears to be false. The rate would start at $.0025 per mile in 2025. However, I do have my doubts about if this single-party government can be trusted to restrain itself. They have a long track record of implementing entirely new taxes and bypassing the democratic process to do so - implementing this new tax at a tiny rate would allow them to potentially raise it significantly over time without the consent of the governed.

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    2. I'd be alot more supportive of this tax if 1) You didn't have to wait until the end of the year to get you're gas tax money, the gas tax was repealed or you got the refund alot sooner 2) There was a serious effort to build more affordable housing so the poor didn't have to commute great distances. 3) some of the tax loopholes that allow the rich/big companies to pay less taxes than the average person were closed. When people hear they have to pay both a gas tax and a per mile tax they will mistakenly believe that they have to give up quality of life to save the planet and they will vote against many green energy proposals.

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    3. The governed give their consent through their representatives. Thats how government works. If everything government did was decided through a "consent decree" of the governed, nothing would ever get done, which is of course the goal of a lot of politicians.

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  13. Can you tell Jay Inslee AGW is not going to doom us all?

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  14. It's not just journalists and politicians who are the problem. Science is dying from the inside.

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  15. Who pays for all this? The fusion and fission plants? Relocating populations from flood prone areas? The forest management?

    Taxpayers? Insurance companies? Or do the markets determine the winners and losers like always? Seems apparent there is a Catch 22 that climate adaptation/mitigation can't be financed without preserving or even accelerating the fossil fuel based economy.

    It almost seems like Climate Change should not be a topic of discussion for the general public and instead be left to our betters while the common folk carry on with business as usual.

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  16. "the number of climate related deaths is way down"... seems to me you are blurring the line between weather and climate with this claim.

    Also: "Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society," per the 2018 IPCC report. I'm sure you're aware of the massive, global implications of 1.5 degrees warming versus 2.0+ degrees warming.

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  17. And how about climate change denial-ism?

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    1. Why are you using Holocaust language in order to smear anyone who disagrees with you?

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    2. A better question is how do we retain scientific skepticism without the pernacious charge of denialism?

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    3. Which climate change is being denied? That which occured over the last interglacial? Or that which occurs in computers predicting the future.

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  18. "Apocalytic predictions calling for immediate action have gotten our nation into trouble many times in the past, resulting in major errors."

    Right, but we've made the opposite mistake as well. There were people saying that AIDS could be a horrible epidemic, costing the lives of millions. They were largely ignored. 26 million people have died of AIDS.

    The rise of fascism in Europe was largely ignored in the United States. There were people speaking out, saying it was horrible, but they were largely ignored. That God Roosevelt and Churchill understood the threat -- it is too bad they couldn't convince the world to act sooner.

    I say listen to the experts. Not the climate experts -- that part is clear. The economists, the epidemiologists, the biologists, the geopolitical experts, the Pentagon. They are all saying the same thing. Things will get much worse because of climate change. Just about anything that is bad right now in the world will be made worse by climate change, or be more likely to happen. Animal displacement increases the chance of new diseases. Drought (in places like West Africa) causes an increase in Jihadists and the rise of autocrats. Economies struggle, leading to right wing extremism, even in relatively wealthy areas. More species become extinct, often before we fully understand their role in the complex world we live in (or the life saving role they could play).

    I get it, Cliff. You are free to write about anything you want -- it is your blog. But when you write about things you know little about (like math textbooks) a lot of us find it irritating. You are an expert on the weather. My guess is, no one know more about Northwest weather than you. But you aren't a climatologist, but you are better prepared to review and question the climate studies. Statements from you about the expected rise in temperature (especially locally) are to be expected, and are appreciated.

    But you have no expertise when it comes to the social, political or environmental ramifications of climate change. It is far more likely that we are underestimating this threat -- or more to the point, doing very little about it -- than overreacting. To downplay what most experts would consider the greatest challenge of our time is nothing more than unfounded optimism.

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  19. I am a member of this anxious younger generation (millenials and younger) that feels a sort of general environmental despair, and I just wanted to comment that it is not because I think that climate change necessarily represents an "existential threat" to myself or the human race as a whole. It's because of its damage to the environment and other species on earth. I believe that we are an adaptable species, but a lot of other animals can't handle these changes that we've created. And that is just fundamentally terribly sad.

    I do appreciate your blog, and I enjoy receiving weather updates from it. I don't share your optimism about technology, though, because I think the fundamental problem is that there are just so many humans having so much impact through all of our actions towards the environment. The real solution to me would be to reduce the human population voluntarily through people choosing not to have children, but that is probably so controversial that it will never be put on the table.

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    1. I grew up fearing nuclear war, and the world camethisclose to ending numerous times during the 60's and 70's. As for population control, this was trumpeted ad nauseum by kooks back then by the likes of Paul Ehrlich, who postulated that the earth couldn't possibly support the population as currently exists. He was spectacularly wrong, and has admitted it due to a famous bet that he lost. One other thing - China bought into this edict, and enforced their infamous "One Child Policy," which prohibted anyone from having more than one child. Ask them how well that's worked out for them, they're on track to facing a population time bomb in the reverse, they're ageing out so rapidly that they're going to have the oldest population on the planet in less than two decades.

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    2. You're on point with this. Cliff doesnt seem to think anyone should worry about climate change, but they should "take it seriously," whatever that means. Apparently solving climate change is easy, and technology will just save us from ourselves long after Cliff is dead. The root of this problem isnt technology, its an ethos of exploitation and control. Until we see ourselves as participants in the global ecosystem instead of dominators of it, the problem climate change and ecological collapse will continue. Cliff is optimistic about the future, but everything that our "younger" generation have observed doesnt give us much reason for optimism.

      I for one am not willing to bet on us figuring out how to sustain fusion in then next few decades, or discover some other incredible anti-climate change technology.

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    3. There's a vast array of root causes, but an overlooked primary driver is the globalist-economic system that depends on ever-increasing growth and consumption. The elites that control this system have already decided that the future they want to enable is more and more consumption to the point where we'll exhaust the planet of resources and need to move. Until such time the hold of elites on the levers of power are loosened we're unlikely to ever have an open discourse that would allow people to come to the conclusion that having fewer children is a good course to plot. On the other hand the trends for fertility in the western world are declining dramatically which eventually will result in the elites having a say in who reproduces and by how much.

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    4. Colin...there was a major announcement today of a significant advance in fusion power. Even if we don't use fusion, new technology/very safe fission is available...cliff

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    5. Colin, I hear the frustration and sadness you are expressing here and I understand, and for the most part I agree. I think that things will most likely not change as much as they should because people are invested emotionally (and in other ways) in continuing the lives that their parents and grandparents have had. I wouldn't wish the kind of life-long sadness about these issues that I feel on others. I do wish that we could have honest and significant conversations as a society about the fact that the modern world is simply not sustainable in an environmental sense, with a massive, still increasing, globalized population of humans always creating more and more changes to the earth.

      However, I do feel that you may be venting a bit harshly towards Cliff Mass in some of the posts here. I think that he is an educated meteorologist who chooses to have a different perspective on the future than I might expect. I appreciate hearing this perspective because it helps me understand how people who understand climate issues but continue to promote a technological future view the world.

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    6. Cliff, for how many years now have we had "major announcements" about fusion?

      We are not anywhere close. If everything goes right with ITER, and we solve the myriad problems with sustained continuous operation and energy transfer, maybe we'll have a fusion power plant that produces electricity by 2051? Could be sooner, or could be later. It could also be never.

      We can take actions right now that actually deal with the problem, and even if fusion or some other tech would come to our rescue, those actions are still a great idea.

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    7. What's the harm in being a race which consumes less? We are creating and consuming garbage products. Junk mail, plastic toys, products with built-in planned obsolescence... just so we can keep our GNP on the illusionary incline. Coming up with new fuel sources is only a band aid for the underlying issue of too many humans trying to be supported with a limited supply of resources, poor agriculture and animal husbandry practices, unsustainable forestry, and so on. Let's not try to invent new fuel and product substrates while we are still making egregious mistakes with the extraction and over consumption of the resources we have. Anonymous.. the earlier post... is right.

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  20. I am a member of this anxious younger generation (millenials and younger) that feels a sort of general environmental despair, and I just wanted to comment that it is not because I think that climate change necessarily represents an "existential threat" to myself or the human race as a whole. It's because of its damage to the environment and other species on earth. I believe that we are an adaptable species, but a lot of other animals can't handle these changes that we've created. And that is just fundamentally terribly sad.

    I do appreciate your blog, and I enjoy receiving weather updates from it. I don't share your optimism about technology, though, because I think the fundamental problem is that there are just so many humans having so much impact through all of our actions towards the environment. The real solution to me would be to reduce the human population voluntarily through people choosing not to have children, but that is probably so controversial that it will never be put on the table.

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  21. Funny that climate change is so often portrayed universally as "bad" for humanity, when it may be good for some Canadian farmers but bad for low-lying island dwellers.
    This is because Journalists will exaggerate, like the headline "1 kilometer wide asteroid to pass near earth", then read it will pass 1.2 million miles away, and that has been known about for years. Journalists want "views" and "clicks"; fairness and accuracy are further down their list, in my opinion.
    Politicians also cherry pick their facts when it will increase their popularity, after all, they are called politicians.
    What you need regarding climate change is someone that sees both sides but shoots straight, and Cliff is the best I have found so far.

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  22. Climate change is about the least of our concerns. Look at everything going on in the world; and the fact that at virtually any moment an asteroid or comet could strike our planet bringing on a whole new set of "climate change" concerns.

    Anyone heard of Agenda 21? If you haven't I highly recommend looking into it. The powers that be have a plan that is already well underway to eliminate all your concerns about "global warming"...and you

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  23. Prof. Mass, have you seen this study? Could you scan it and assess whether it is accurate or flawed? The author claims to debunk the models upon which the IPCC relies and presents a simpler, physics-based model. Hard for us laypeople to assess. https://article.sciencepublishinggroup.com/pdf/10.11648.j.ijaos.20190301.13.pdf

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  24. Let's work hard and party hard. The universe will end too so don't sweat it.

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  25. Cliff, you just cant seem to shake your western anthrocentric perspective. Can you please for once just step out of your privileged PNW urbanite frame of reference? Climate change is an existential threat to important species, and to some local people's way of life (say, your local indigenous communities). Its also an existential threat to major communities around the world (like say, Bangladesh or Pacific Island nations). The only existential threat you seem to think qualifies as an "existential threat" is the existence of the human species. There are existential threats to ways of life, to salmon and whales, to other endangered species. Saying there isnt a threat to way of life is like seeing the photo-expose that was recently published by the NYT of fishermen enjoying nature in the polluted ditch of the Los Angeles River and concluding "look, we'll still have fishing after we decimate the rivers."

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    1. colin...first you dont have to be insulting. Second, you are quite wrong. Have you check the lives lost in Bangladesh lately. 60 years ago a major hurricanes killed 500000. Last year, a few dozen..cliff

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    2. Colin it's so frustrating that dire issues like pollution and water quality are thrown to the wayside while climate change gets the bulk of attention and financing. The only reason why it would make sense to go along with this is if one believes that carbon can act as as a proxy for regulatory controls on anything - meaning that if they gain regulatory and financial control in the name of carbon, they can apply that to stopping acute pollution. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening.

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    3. If you really cared about the animals you would be focused on invasive species. Climate takes out species naturally, such as blackbrush in the Mojave and aspen on the Colorado Plateau. Always has. All of the endagered species work I do involves populations reduced by the last 1,600 years of warming, and now finally getting wiped out by invasives. I don't think you can reduce the 1,600 years of warming, so focus on the weeds.

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    4. Cam, invasive species are important but they are by no means the primary limiting factor for every endangered species. I'm not sure which animals you're referring to, but the only species you mention (blackbrush) has no protected status from what I can tell, and doesnt appear to be threatened let alone "taken out" by 1600 years of warming. I dont know what evidence you have for "1600" years of warming, but I dont know of any 1600 year warming trend.

      I can tell you that invasive weeds are a consideration, but they are not a major limiting factor for endangered salmon and Orca. Climate change will absolutely be one in the future, it probably is already, and definitely not due to some "natural 1600 years of warming."

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  26. Excellent post Dr. Mass!!!
    Also, has your group completed the study on the long-term predictions based on the RCP4.5 scenario.

    Thanks,

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  27. It has been clear since 2012, after the climate activists won in the courts in defending the EPA's Clean Air Act Section 202 Endangerment Finding for Carbon, that the Executive Branch of the US Government and the EPA have the legal authority under the CAA to directly and very aggressively regulate America's carbon emissions. However, this authority has never been exercised nearly to the extent that it could be. Obama didn't do it, and Biden isn't doing it.

    Here is a high level overview of how it might be done:

    -- Issue an Executive Order declaring a Carbon Pollution Crisis and an Executive Order declaring a Climate Change National Security Threat Crisis.
    -- Publish a Clean Air Act Section 108 Endangerment Finding which complements 2009’s Section 202 finding.
    -- Classify carbon emissions as 'criteria pollutants' under the Clean Air Act.
    -- Establish a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for carbon pollution.
    -- Declare carbon emissions as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) under CAA Section 112.
    -- Use the NAAQS for carbon pollution as America’s tie-in to international climate change agreements.
    -- Defend the Section 108 Endangerment Finding, the NAAQS, and the Section 112 HAP Declaration in the courts.
    -- Publish a regulatory framework for carbon pollution under Clean Air Act sections 108, 111, 112, 202, and other CAA sections as applicable.
    -- Establish cooperative agreements with the states to enforce the EPA’s anti-carbon regulations.
    -- Establish a system of carbon pollution fines which is the functional equivalent of a legislated tax on carbon.
    -- Establish the legal basis for sharing the revenues collected from these carbon pollution fines among the federal and state governments.

    The above steps don't begin to cover all of the actions President Biden could take unilaterally under current law if he decided to quickly reduce America's carbon emissions. But he hasn't done this, nor does he currently show any sign that he will be doing so in the future.

    OK, all you climate activists ... before you dump on Cliff Mass, shouldn't you be asking The Seattle Times, Governor Inslee, Senators Cantwell and Murphy, 350.org, the Children's Trust, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council -- etc., etc., etc. -- shouldn't you be asking these people and these organizations why they haven't put any pressure on President Biden to use his own existing authorities as our Chief Executive in quickly reducing America's carbon emissions?

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    1. Many of these organizations have been vocal and active on this front. But when you have many respected scientists like Professor Mass coming out and saying things like this article, it makes public opinion and political action much harder to sway. The truth is most people will not read the IPCC report and it's hundreds of pages on how bad climate change is, they will read a headline for 5 seconds and think "Cliff Mass thinks Climate change is a joke, so of course we won't support restrictions on our lives in order to address this fake threat." I agree that climate change isn't going to end the world in 12 years, but allowing people to think its no big deal, and thereby vote against changes to prevent it, actively works against the assumption that it's easy to fix and that we will have the technology to fix it before it becomes existential.

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    2. We are trying. And it's now just starting to work. The public is starting to get worried about the climate issues we are experiencing. They're putting the pieces together. But I tell you, those industry folks have a lot more money than the general public. So it's numbers, not dollars, which will determine the future of this.

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    3. Might be best to find out if meddling with carbon will have any effect on climate before you end up severely disappointed. I am still waiting for a quantative study using empirical data that shows co2 changes the climate.

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    4. Jessicax: "We are trying. And it's now just starting to work. The public is starting to get worried about the climate issues we are experiencing. They're putting the pieces together. But I tell you, those industry folks have a lot more money than the general public. So it's numbers, not dollars, which will determine the future of this."

      America's carbon emissions are roughly 17% of world emissions. A fundamental issue climate activists must address is how to convince China, India, and the developing nations that they should abandon fossil fuels and should instead rely on wind, solar, and nuclear for their long term energy needs.

      The argument is being made that America's leadership in quickly reducing our own carbon emissions is a prerequisite for convincing China and India to reduce theirs.

      The problem with that argument is that a credible plan must be presented by the Biden Administration which demonstrates that America can in fact meet its stated GHG reduction goals -- net zero in the power generation sector by 2035 and net zero for the American economy as a whole by 2050.

      Here are just a few of the things a credible plan must contain:

      - A hard numbers estimate for what portion of Net Zero must be achieved through renewable energy development and what portion must be achieved through the imposition of strict energy conservation measures.
      - A detailed, hard numbers estimate for the renewable energy resources America will be producing and consuming in 2035, identified and quantified as hard target objectives.
      - A revised set of grid reliability planning objectives which is consistent with the realities of wind and solar's intermittency.
      - The numbers of wind turbines required, their nameplate capacities, their proposed locations, and their estimated capacity factors in the locations where these wind turbines are to be sited.
      - The numbers of grid-scale solar farms required, their nameplate capacities, their proposed locations, and their estimated capacity factors in the locations where these solar farms are to be sited.
      - The numbers of roof-top solar systems required, their nameplate capacities, their technical configurations, and their proposed distribution among business and residential structures.
      - The numbers of grid-scale backup energy facilities required, their nominal capacities, their proposed locations, their technical configurations, and their estimated capacity factors.
      - The numbers of smaller power generation backup systems likely to be required for individual cities and towns, and for large energy consuming industries.
      - An inventory of the specific lands and coastal waters targeted for wind and solar development, including those lands needed for a greatly expanded energy transmission infrastructure.
      - A credible policy and means for overcoming resistance to the Net Zero initiatives, means which may include abandoning parts or all of NEPA and reversing the decisions of government-charted local and state planning authorities which are adverse to wind and solar development.

      We have seen nothing so far from the Biden Administration which even remotely resembles a credible plan for achieving net zero in the power generation sector by 2035 and net zero for the American economy as a whole by 2050.

      As long as this remains the case, why would China, India, and any other developing nation take America's professed commitment to climate action leadership seriously?

      Jessicax, let's give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that you are in fact sincere in expressing your worries about climate change.

      However, that being said, isn't it time for you to start asking this question: Are those among the climate activists who are truly sincere being taken for a ride by Joe Biden, Jay Inslee, and all the other big names and big organizations who don't walk their talk of addressing climate change?

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    5. If someone believes that China is really going to limit carbon dioxide output it's a fools wish. The western world was sure if we worked with China it would lead them to democracy, now they essentially have an emperor again.

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    6. Law Office.. I NEVER say climate change is a joke. I am just trying to bring perspective and science into play, noting some of the exaggerations and false information that I believe works against effective action in dealing with climate change....

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  28. Professor Mass, I agree with you 100%. It is always a bad idea when people use hyperbole unsupported by facts to try and make a point that cannot be supported by reality. An example of such hyperbole unsupported by facts is when somebody would compare some petty criminals committing vandalism and low level theft in an open, free and democratic (albeit imperfect), to an organized group of people wearing brown shirts who were intent on exterminating an entire group of people because they also committed vandalism and theft. Hopefully a person who makes such a comparison would agree with you.

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  29. I sincerely doubt climate change will present an existential threat to my family. We're relatively wealthy, live in a moderate climate at elevation, and in a modestly-developed country (the United States is not as fully developed compared to our peers, but is sufficiently so). I'm not worried about us.

    Who I am worried about are those far afield from us. I'm thinking about highly-populated, low-lying places (among others) that are not ready for this. Are we ready to help them and/or perhaps take on millions upon millions of climate refugees? I would fully support this (I mean, a far better use of money that what we waste on defense and corporate giveaways every year), but much better still would be to address and stem the cause of all this. The technology and knowledge (thanks to you and your peers' hard work) exist in spades, so let's get it done.

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  30. Hi Dr. Mass, good article as usual. What I'm trying to get a sense of is (1) the level of urgency we as a society should have regarding climate change, and (2) how that urgency should be communicated to the public. I agree that hype is counterproductive, but I also think that doing/saying nothing may be worse. Your thoughts?

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  31. I don't have a link to the study, but might I ask for you to discuss the study that showed 450 ppm would lead to 2C of warming, and how we're on track to reach that within a decade or so? It seems like people like you seem to think only the temperature matters, when the carbon (and especially the carbon delay in impact, also matter. In fact, I would say that carbon matters more in terms of when and how we act, which is why I ask.

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Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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